Smaller nursing homes across Ireland are struggling to remain viable under intense costs pressure, the head of Health Sector at Bank of Ireland Grainne Henson has warned.
Speaking during Nursing Homes Week 2022, Henson said it was important to acknowledge the fantastic nursing home staff that play an integral role in offering care in communities nationwide.
Henson, the newly appointed Head of Health Sector at Bank of Ireland has a background in nursing and understands the challenges that nursing home businesses currently face.
“Smaller homes not located within a group or wider company, are struggling to remain viable under intense costs pressure. So far in 2022, five such homes have closed with more set to close imminently”
She warned that the current fee structure for nursing homes is outdated and a fairer model that supports residents, their carers and nursing home operators needs to be created.
“The nursing home sector is very active at the moment, with a significant influx of oversees investment looking set to continue,” she said.
“Demand for beds is currently higher than supply capacity, presenting opportunities for acquisitions and new enterprises. In particular, we are seeing strong competition in the market for existing moderate sized nursing homes with development potential.”
A changing market
She said that the past few years have seen considerable expansions by large nursing home operators, creating jobs in communities across the country.
But at the same time it is the smaller homes that don’t enjoy the same economies of scale that are feeling the pressure.
“Smaller homes not located within a group or wider company, are struggling to remain viable under intense costs pressure. So far in 2022, five such homes have closed with more set to close imminently. This trend has prompted HIQA to express concern.”
Henson said that it is important that nursing homes of all sizes can remain viable considering the role they will play long into our future.
“With constant advances in modern medicine, we are living healthier and longer lives. Since the 2016 Census, Ireland’s population of over 65 year olds has increased by 22.1%. This demographic also means there is an increasing older population that requires care. Whilst at times this care can be provided in the person’s home, often there is a need for twenty four hour specialised or expert care.
“Family are not always in a position, nor have the skill set, to care for the individual at home, especially when there are complex needs.“Nursing homes therefore play a pivotal role in helping families maintain financial stability whilst caring for elderly relatives and, with our growing ageing population, the role of nursing homes looks set to become even more vital.”
From a Government policy perspective, Henson said that it is vital that nursing homes of all sizes can feed into an integrated healthcare model.
“The current shift towards larger nursing homes that are not always situated in the local community of its residents has attracted criticism from organisations such as HIQA. This trend is conflicting with the stated aims of Sláintecare, to provide ‘the right care in the right place at the right time’.
“In response, some nursing home groups are currently exploring models of integrative care offering an array of services; day care facilities with access to a multidisciplinary team, home care packages as well as long term residential care. The aim is to offer a more seamless and consistent quality of care that is also cost effective.
“Given the current trends and developments in the nursing home sector, the current fee structure requires urgent review. Nursing Homes Ireland are lobbying for a fairer funding model which would see greater parity between Dublin and the rest of the country, and between public and private long term residential facilities,” Henson commented.